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DC Police to hand out steering wheel locks to some Kia, Hyundai drivers amid rise in thefts

The rise in cases of stolen certain models of Kias and Hyundais is due to videos posted online showing how to start the car with a USB charging cord.

WASHINGTON — Attention D.C. Kia and Hyundai owners, you may qualify for a free steering wheel lock from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The locks are being handed out in response to a rise in thefts of certain model cars. 

On Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD announced residents who own 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai vehicles can pick up a free steering wheel lock from a District station on Friday, Feb. 24. 

According to a release from District officials, residents who qualify for a free steering wheel lock must bring the following:

  • A 2011-2021 Hyundai or Kia Vehicle
  • A steel key ignition (keyless entry/push-to-start vehicles are not impacted)
  • Proof of DC registration
  • A District ID

The steering wheel locks will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Owners may pick up a free lock from one of the following District stations:

  • First District: 101 M Street SW
  • Second District: 3320 Idaho Avenue NW
  • Third District: 1620 V Street NW
  • Fourth District: 6001 Georgia Avenue NW
  • Fifth District: 1805 Bladensburg Road NE
  • Sixth District: 5002 Hayes Street NE
  • Seventh District: 2455 Alabama Ave SE

Click here to see if your local D.C. station has any remaining wheel locks. 

The locks come from a partnership between Kia, Hyundai and MPD and aim to protect residents' vehicles from being taken as part of a social media challenge that shows how to start the cars with a USB cable. 

“Car theft is a serious problem – it is incredibly stressful and often costly and time-consuming for the victims, and it is dangerous to have these stolen cars on the road,” said Bowser. “I encourage all DC residents who own a 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai to pick up their free steering wheel locks as soon as possible from a District station to prevent theft.

Recently, videos posted online showing how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles using a USB charging cord has led to a drastic increase in the number of motor vehicle thefts in the city. In Jan. 2022, there were 25 total reported incidents of thefts involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles. In Dec. 2022, there were more than 150 reported incidents, according to police. 

“We are seeing that many of the vehicles stolen in the District are later being used to commit acts of violent crime in our city,” said Chief Contee. “This is unacceptable."

After months of reported thefts, Kia and Hyundai say they have a software update designed to help owners. 

How to get the free update:

Kia and Hyundai owners who are interested in getting the updated software for free will need to contact Hyundai toll-free at 800-633-5151 or Kia toll-free at 800-333-4542. 

In addition to the free software, customers will be given a sticker alerting would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection.  The stickers will be sent out as the software updates are rolled out. 

Both companies have worked with law enforcement agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks since November 22 to 77 law enforcement agencies across 12 states.

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